Is your job algorithmic or heuristic?

An algorithmic task is one in which you follow a set of established instructions down a single pathway to one conclusion.  A heuristic task involves trial and error and discovering the solution by yourself.  Algorithmic jobs therefore are ones where the same task is done over and over.  Heuristic jobs involve creativity and doing something new often.

Algorithmic jobs are becoming easier to replace with technology.  For example, consider the last time time you called an airline or a travel agent to make a reservation.  Or perhaps you used the self-checkout at the grocery store.  If you have an algorithmic job, you may want to consider switching careers while you still have time.

Heuristic jobs, especially those that involve personal contact, are more difficult to replace with technology.  Consider such jobs as lobbyists, public relations professionals, athletes and beauticians.

2 responses to “Is your job algorithmic or heuristic?

  1. Heuristic vs. Algorithmic is a concept closely related to Daniel Pink’s book “Drive.” Dan Pink explains the effective ways to motivate people for each type of task. Pink outlines that contemporary motivation is aligned with three attributes: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The book is great and its an easy read. Pink talks about autonomy at TED:

  2. This, as far as I know, coming from M. Gagne & EL Decis SDT theory. and I think Daniel H. Pink is inspired by this. by the way, I also think Daniel H. Pink talk about jobmotivation is brilliant.
    But thanks for the elucidation of these concepts that help me understand the SDT, a little better. I must apologize for my english I hope you understand this.
    Daniel. DK.

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